The grandmother of Joshua "J.J." Vallow — one of Lori Vallow's two children who disappeared in 2019 before they turned up dead in 2020 — says she does not "recognize" the so-called "cult mom" in recent photos that show her smiling in and outside an Idaho courthouse.
Lori and her husband, Chad Daybell, allegedly killed the two children, 7-year-old J.J. and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, around September 2019, as well as Daybell's ex-wife, Tammy Daybell, in October 2019. Vallow was also indicted in the July 2019 murder of her ex-husband, Charles Vallow.
"I don't know who she is. I don't recognize her.… The face is the one I used to think I knew, but I guess I just didn't know her," Kay Woodcock, J.J.'s grandmother and Charles Vallow's sister, told Fox News Digital. "I think Charles loved her so much, and you know the saying love is blind. Well, obviously, he was very blind to a lot of things, and so much so that it killed him."
A promising marriage
Charles Vallow, Woodcock's brother, agreed to adopt J.J. with Lori in 2013, when J.J. was a year old. Lori married Charles — her third husband — in 2006, and she was a good mom at first.
Upon the terms of their adoption of J.J., the Vallows agreed that Kay Woodcock and her husband, Larry Woodcock, could be present in the boy's life as his "Mamaw and Papaw." The Woodcocks got to visit their grandson — whom they described as energetic, ingestive and friendly — often, even as Charles and Lori moved around the country in their 13 years of marriage.
"They were like, ‘No problem. Absolutely,'" Kay Woodcock recalled. "Lori had made a photo album when [J.J.] was just a year old … with the pictures of me in it and Larry in it and our family down here and just different people here. And she'd open it and say, ‘Who’s this, J.J.?' And he would look at her, and she would say, ‘Mamaw and Papaw.’ But, I mean, she reinforced that — who we were. I loved that."
Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell are at the center of a bizarre series of murders within their families. Vallow and Daybell met in 2018 and appeared together for the first time on a podcast discussing theories about the end of the world.
A series of murders
Lori and Chad Daybell are accused of killing 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow in 2019. (Rexberg Police Department)
Things "hit the fan" in January 2019, according to Kay Woodcock.
That's when Charles Vallow called police to his home in Arizona at the time to report his wife and children missing. In police body-worn camera footage from the evening of Jan. 31, 2019, obtained by Fox 10 Phoenix, Charles can be heard telling police that he thinks his wife has "lost her mind."
He continues to tell officers that Lori believes she is "a resurrected being of God" and thinks he is a "dark spirit." He says he doesn't "know what she's going to do," with his children, who were with Lori at the time.
"I don't know if she's going to flee with them, if she's going to hurt them," he responded, adding that he had spoken to Lori earlier in the day over the phone. He claimed she told him and his church bishop, "Come take the kids. I don't care what happens to them."
Lori went to the police the next day and apparently told authorities she believed Charles was cheating on her. The next month, Lori left her children with Charles and disappeared for 58 days, according to Woodcock, at which point Charles filed for a divorce and custody of her children. Lori soon began dating Chad Daybell.
In July 2019, Lori's brother, Alex Cox, allegedly shot Charles Vallow to death in Arizona, claiming self-defense. Two months later, in September 2019, Tylee and J.J. went missing for months. Cox died later that year of an apparent blood clot in December 2019.
Police say Lori and Chad Daybell lied about the Tylee and J.J.'s whereabouts and then slipped away to Hawaii — before the children's bodies were found buried on Chad Daybell's property in rural Idaho in June 2020.
Chad Daybell (left) and Lori Vallow (right)
But before the confusing string of murders unfolded, Kay Woodcock says her husband noticed a change in Lori's behavior.
"Larry is very intuitive, and back in 2017, and I don't know what it was specifically, he said, ‘Something’s wrong.' And I was like, ‘What do you mean, something’s wrong?' He's like, ‘Something’s wrong with Lori. I don't know what it is, but something's going on between her and Charles.' And I said, 'No, you're just imagining that,'" Kay explained.
But in 2018, when Kay's mom died, Lori didn't show up to the funeral.
"To me, that was a slap in the face," Kay said.
In 2018, when Charles and Lori lived in Hawaii, Lori's former husband and Tylee's father, Joseph Ryan, died of an apparent heart attack. When Kay went to visit the Vallows in Hawaii that year, she remembers Lori talking about how Ryan was "evil" and "deserved to be dead." Kay didn't know Ryan and assumed he was "a bad guy" at the time.
Hope for justice four years later
Fremont County Judge Steven Boyce issued a recent order to move forward with Lori's and Daybell's joint murder trial in April, despite Daybell's request to further delay the trial for more time to analyze evidence. The trial has been delayed several times since it was initially scheduled for 2021 due to a number of different factors, including Lori's competency and the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Woodcocks say they have been waiting for justice for J.J., Tylee and Charles since that day in January 2019 when Lori first disappeared and left her children with Charles.
"I will be devastated if it doesn't happen. … We've learned to just go with the flow because it doesn't do any good to get mad or get in a hurry. But I do have high hopes for this, and I do hope it comes to fruition," Kay said.
Lori's defense attorney, John Tomas, argued during a Jan. 19 hearing that she hadn't "actually participated in any of these events or that she even knew about them."
Kay believes "that's just her defense attorney talking and talking her up."
"I don't know what the prosecution has. I just know they have a mountain of evidence," she said. "So, you know, Larry and I have not been told details about really anything. … And it's just not been on our radar to ask because we've been dealing with the loss itself and then getting angry again about the things that happened. I can only imagine right now [the details] are going to be horrifying when we do have them. There will come a time for that, and it hasn't happened yet."
She and Larry are eagerly awaiting access to J.J.'s remains following the April trial so they can give him a proper service and burial.